However, today was a different day, so I stepped on the bathroom scales. Of course, stepping onto the scales would not change my physical shape but would just reveal my weight. Without disclosing the exact reading on this public forum I will admit that I looked down in disbelief at the numbers on the screen.
My wife, seeking to offer some solace, suggested the scales could be inaccurate. I grasped at this possibility, thinking we should buy a new set. However, that hope was quickly extinguished when I placed a 16kg kettlebell on the scales and saw that exact weight displayed on the monitor. The pressing need, therefore, is not to spend money on equipment to measure my weight but to do something about the extra baggage I have accumulated recently.
What a miserable start to the day! I briefly considered that I should dispose of the equipment that was the cause of my distress, but I quickly realised that all it had done was reveal the truth. In all honesty, it was a state of affairs that I had suspected but had been closing my eyes to. The truth I had been avoiding had been disclosed to me. Now, it is up to me to do something about it. That inanimate object on the bathroom floor has no power to help.
Pondering this early morning shock caused me to think of something of far greater significance that reveals the truth about us but has no power to change us. The Bible speaks about God’s law, as revealing His commands and something of His character.
Many people think of God’s law as being summarized in the Ten Commandments, which were given to the Israelites many centuries ago. They had been delivered out of Egypt and were on their way to the land that God had promised them. The law, in its entirety, placed demands on how they were to live in relationship to God and each other. This law had details about every aspect of human life including special days, sacrifices, working, eating, clothing, building, etc. It was given as a whole unit to a certain people for a specific time. The law demanded perfect and continuous obedience if a person was to be considered righteous in God’s sight. In other words, the only way to be accepted by God, under the law, would be to keep it in its entirety.
Keeping the law perfectly was impossible for them, so they could never find acceptance with God by that means. What’s more, the Jewish people were reminded years later that those who were under the law would be judged by that law:
“all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law” (Romans 2:12b).
I’m sure this concept is familiar to all of us. We live in countries where there are laws, and the judicial authorities will judge us by those laws. So, I will be judged under the laws of the United Kingdom and not those of Saudi Arabia.
However, it was never God’s intention for Israel (the Jews) to be saved through law-keeping. Much as my bathroom scales would reveal the truth about my physical weight, the law was given to reveal their spiritual state and their need for salvation from another source. The Bible teaches us that the law was given to the Jew to lead them to realise their need for Christ, so that they might be justified in God’s sight through faith in Christ:
“Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).
But what about us? We are not Jews from thousands of years ago. Do we have a law? The answer is an emphatic “Yes”. Although we are not recipients of the law given to the Jewish people, God has written a law upon our hearts:
“for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them” (Romans 2:14-15).
We all have a God-given conscience that challenges us to act morally. Although, if we repeatedly act contrary to it, our conscience can be desensitized, it is there to give us an instinctive sense of right and wrong. Each of us knows the feelings we have when tempted to go against what we know to be right or to treat others in ways we would not want to be treated ourselves. So, conscience is a warning system that triggers an alarm when we choose to ignore or disobey the law written on our hearts.
This morning my bathroom scales gave me a wake-up call. Recent months of excess calories being consumed had resulted in extra weight. Our conscience sounds an alarm on a far greater subject, showing us that we have sinned. The Bible informs us that breaking that law, written on our hearts, is serious:
“For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law” (Romans 2:12a).
The scales reveal the truth about our weight but have no power to remove the surplus. The law given to us discloses our condition before God but it cannot save. However, the Holy Spirit does use it to convict us of our sin, and then points us to Jesus Christ as the Saviour of sinners.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Today, I did not like what the scales told me and thought about throwing them away but ignoring their message would have been to the detriment of my physical health. If, however, we pay no attention to what our conscience is telling us, if we ignore the messages about sin that we receive from it, that is of immeasurably greater consequence.